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    Children: Overprotected or Safer Than Ever?

    challenge posed by Kate Freeman 347 days 4 hours 38 minutes ago

    Category: World
    Challenge Forum

    Children: Overprotected or Safer Than Ever?

    Are kids today overprotected or are the precautions taken necessary? Childhood has changed a ton in the past 50 years. Namely, parents have more to worry about and children have fewer freedoms than kids of past generations. Today, kids can be picked up by the police for being unattended. In one instance, an 8-year-old boy missed his bus and decided to walk to school – a 2 mile route that included .7 miles on Route 68 and a heavily traffic intersection. Police picked him up, drove him to school and then visited his house where his step mother was sleeping. When they woke her up, she told them the boy was downstairs. She was arrested for risk to injury a minor. For some parents, not allowing kids to walk to school goes too far. A parenting style that promotes "Free-Range Children" aims to fight “the belief that our children are in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a non-organic grape,” according to the Free Range Children blog. Parents of free-range kids say their children learn more self-reliance and independence by being given more freedom. In 2016 a law was passed that allows children to walk or bike to school (although that doesn’t replace state and local laws). But free-range parenting is controversial. Many parents would say that due to the society we live in now, like it or not, parents have more things to protect their children from. Not only that but in many cases, free-range kids end up being cared for by other parents. When kids need help or someone to intervene, which all kids do, it falls on adults who are nearby to step in. Parents of free-range kids may also miss out on some teachable moments, like “say sorry” “look both ways before crossing”, etc. – and also be around to enforce those things to keep kids safe.¬ What do you think about free-range parenting? Share your thoughts in the comments.

    Re: Children: Overprotected or Safer Than Ever?

    Hey Kate!

    I like this forum and honestly there is a lot to think about here. I do think that children have become less dependent on themselves and don't know how to handle day to day issues because they are in such a tight bubble. I always hear my dad say when I was you age i could change a tire, or when I was your age I dealt with this this and that. The thing is children aren't really given the chance to wander off on their own, explore, learn and grow these skills their parents and grandparents had.

    However, on the same time I do understand why parents are more over protective now. I mean one mistake, one incident and your life has all changed, and you can lose everything. So I can understand when parents just say to themselves I'm going to raise my child in my own bubble, i don't want them out in about harming themselves.

    In my parent's days, they lived in a smaller town, and everyone knew everyone. There weren't any cars and crimes happened a lot less. Now, most people have moved to the city for better jobs. In cities crime rates increase, there are busy street with fast cars and vehicles. It can be a scary thought of putting your child in this environment. So that's why, I don't agree with the free range kids. I understand their movement but I think children can grown, learn, and develop important skills in a different way. I think supervision is always needed for children and if something does happen, you will end up regretting your entire life. So it's just not worth it.

    That's what I think. Anyways, thanks for the forum! have a great night :)

    Re: Children: Overprotected or Safer Than Ever?

    I am actually pregnant and due in March. I have also wondered this same thing. I also feel like no matter what parents do there is always going to be someone that disagrees with their parenting. If you are a stay at home mom you aren't ambitious, if you work then you don't spend enough time with your children. Stuff like that. I feel like this day and age we have to be more cautious with our children because it is not like the "good ole days" where children could do what ever they want (within reason) without a worry that a child might get hurt or go missing.

    Re: Children: Overprotected or Safer Than Ever?

    Hi all!

    Children have definitely become a little too reliant on parents. Most children don't actually "leave" their parents until well into their 20s. They are less independent and end up relying more on their parents and others than on themselves. In some aspects this "helicopter" approach keeps so many kids form growing up, finding their own independence and supporting themselves. My parents continually ragged on all the things they could do when they were younger but they never gave us the chance to actually do them. They would also talk about being in kindergarten and walking to school every day by themselves. I don't live in a big city but I don't live in a small town either and every day I see kids of all ages walking to school by themselves.

    That being said however the crime rate has drastically risen and there are realistically more dangers present. Cars, people, guns, etc. are all out on the street and through technology, spacing and fear things like kidnapping are easier than in the past. This fear, and the access that predators would have to kids if they were by themselves, has led to an even tighter leash on children.

    This being said I like the idea of "free-range" parents. I like the idea of children being able to look after themselves and have more freedom. However having said that I don't know that I would be able to raise my children that way.

    Thanks for the forum!

    Re: Children: Overprotected or Safer Than Ever?


    I believe that children need to protected even more. Currently with all of the technological advancements, there isn't enough we can do to protect our children at the moment. In a few clicks curious minds can lead to webpages promoting porn or other things that I believe at a young age children shouldn't be exposed to. Children now a days hate parents telling them no and space out into their own new world of their phones. I'm very against parenting styles that to get kids to be quiet that they give them an iPad instead of toys.

    That being said I do believe children are too reliant on their parents because of technology. Before children were free to roam and play with other kids along the block. Now they sit inside on their phones while their parents do things for them. Children are so exposed to the world that they forget to live and act properly in the one they're given, giving more to worry about as they can't see what's going on in social media verses seeing them physically play with other children.

    I feel parents should be more cautious with the cyber world and also encourage their children to spend more time in the real world. The real world seems to be getting scarier as well with technology evolving however sometimes letting a child go play without checking in on them every 5 minutes to make sure they didn't get kidnapped might be necessary for their development. I am not discounting the fact that the real world contains the internet as well as physicality, however when one spends too much time in the cyber world, they create a completely different person and lose skills like communication and understanding emotions portrayed by a real face and not an emoji.

    Re: Children: Overprotected or Safer Than Ever?

    Hey Kate!

    As I am not a parent yet, I feel like my opinion doesn't have too much weight on it as I can only imagine how perspective changes when you are dealing with your own children. From an outside view though, I think both the free-range and overprotective parenting styles can both be detrimental in their own ways. Having a hands off, "free-range" approach may be putting your child in more dangerous situations than need be, and could lead to harm. I also think that while it is great for children to critically think and figure out things on their own, parents are still needed to provide guidance, love and support to facilitate a healthy learning and growing environment. Having a too hands off approach, while I believe intentions are good, could also lead to a child not having the proper support and guidance. That being said, I think the other extreme of an extremely overprotective parent can also have some negative consequences. Again, intentions are good, as they are trying to protect their child from dangers and harm - which obviously I completely agree with as the world now-a-days can be a very scary, messed up place. However, if parents do every little thing for the child, and never allow them to have any freedom, this can lead to a completely new set of problems. The child may not learn how to effectively problem solve and after having everything done for them, they also may get a sense of entitlement and dependence. I know once I am a parent my opinion may completely change, but I hope to have a parenting style as close to the middle of the two as possible, while possible leaning a littleeee more towards free-ranged. I want to let my kids play outside and be fine if they come back a little scraped, dirty or bruised. I want them to enjoy the same freedoms I had as a kid. At the same time, I will be overprotective in the sense that I will severely limit electronics (TV, Video Games, etc) as I think that is just horrible for a child to be glued to a screen all day. Yes, it may be convenient, but it stifles creativity and promotes obesity in children. I guess to summarize, I can't imagine the struggles every parent has to go through when deciding how to raise there children. As I am not a parent yet, I do not judge anyone else for how they decide to raise there children, these are just my two cents on the matter :)

    Thanks for the great question!


    Re: Children: Overprotected or Safer Than Ever?

    It’s interesting.
    I have never heard the term free-range parenting. It is mainly interesting because this is exactly how my mother raised me. Yet, in our world then, it was called taking care of ourselves. Yes, our parents took care of us; but we were also taught life lessons through our parents giving us instructions and us making mistakes using those instructions. For example, if we were told to walk straight to the corner store (which was approximately a quarter of a mile from home) and we stopped on the way back and played in the school yard close by, then we were scolded, corrected, and in the end, understood why it was wrong to not do exactly as we were told.

    I do believe we focus more on overprotecting our children these days. However, I also think it is necessary to some extent. I do not think complete free-range parenting is appropriate for the day and time we currently live. There are more dangers; and this includes out in the world and online. Children are much more vulnerable to many different attacks. Therefore, I do believe in protecting our children from things unknown to them. Yes, we can tell them and teach them about the dangers and consequences that come with online activity. However, I do think parental controls are a great thing. After all, we know the things children can be exposed to online and these are things they don’t even try to see.

    On issues such as walking to the store alone, I think this depends on several factors. First, there is the question of the area a child lives in. Is it rural? Is it busy as stated in the example?
    Why do I think these situations depend on various factors?
    I feel this way simply because we, as parents, do have responsibilities to gauge the danger involved in what we allow our kids free-range to do.

    For instance, in the example given, the parent was unaware of the child walking. However, had the parent previously spoken to the child to let them know what to do if they ever missed the bus? In my thinking, 8 years old is pretty young to walk the distance stated alone. Was anyone with him at the bus stop or does he stand there alone also?

    In the end, free-range parenting can be incorporated into any child’s life. However, as parents there is a responsibility to use our knowledge of the world to protect children from obvious dangers.
    Yes, teach them. However, we aren’t suppose to see them climb a ladder we know to be faulty and then ask them, “Did you learn anything from the fall?”

    Re: Children: Overprotected or Safer Than Ever?

    Hello Kate,

    I am really torn here. I think free range parenting may go too far in the other direction. There has to be a happy medium where kids are allowed many areas that they have to make decisions and probably learn from the mistakes. At the same time these same children should be taught the dangers of society at a young age so they are able to make educated decisions in the real worl.

    My parents are much more on the overprotective side. They sheltered me and my sister from a lot of movie and television content for us to only learn the same things at school from our peers who were not censored. They kept me from driving until they were 100% sure I was ready. That means 3 drivers education classes! None are required in our state. And even though I can drive now they still want check-ins wherever I go and they can track my iPhone.

    What I have learned from all of this is that they think about me day in and day out. They genuinely care. And while that is wonderful, I am heading off to college with lots of mistakes that are sure to be made that perhaps I could have already leaned formless from. So, my answer is that we strive for a happy medium as parents one day. Freedom with knowledge to be able to make smart choices, or if we don't...the ability to think our way out of them.

    Thanks for the great forum!

    - Kara

    Re: Children: Overprotected or Safer Than Ever?

    I do have to agree that things are a lot different now than they were in the past, and that sadly means that people have to change their parenting methods. There are a lot of awful things happening out there, and it's important to keep children safe. We live in a world where victim blaming still happens, and where scumbags can get away with rape and get a very light sentence for it, if they even get one at all. There's a lot of scary things in this world, and I think that free range parents are desperately clinging to the false hope that everyone's just overreacting to what we see in the news without thinking that it could happen to anyone. Victim blaming still sadly exists, and if you're a female and something just so happens to you at the hands of a male that isn't at all appropriate, then you can't tell me that someone isn't going to try and justify those actions with what the female was wearing or how she was acting (which is sickening).

    We live in a world where there is a lot of injustice and it's apparently okay to be elected into office despite bragging about sexually assaulting women (if you have someone who says this and still gets a high position regardless, that pretty much says that it doesn't matter what they said or did, and even if women do come forward and talk about what disgusting acts were inflicted upon them, they are suddenly accused of lying for attention or trying to smear the reputation of the accused). I think that parents who teach their children about the dangers of today are being realistic, and I think it's important that children know about these dangers to either avoid them or report to a trusted adult immediately if it does happen.

    I can see that free range parents just want to give children a care free childhood without a worry in the world, but there's a line, and children can still have that carefree childhood, but just make sure that you protect them.

    Re: Children: Overprotected or Safer Than Ever?

    Hey Kate!

    I do think that children are a bit over protected today, however certain circumstances have led this to be the norm and reason. There are kidnappings, robberies, and so much more that can put a child at risk or in danger. Lots of parents today need to know where their children are at all hours, and to be honest, they have every right! They are the parents and want to protect their children as well as they can. When I was a kid, my mom was very protective of me. She never let me go out of sight for long. I had to ask her to go out and call her if I was going to go somewhere. She wasn't a helicopter parent but she certainly cared a lot. Of course, it is the parent's decision how much freedom they want to give their children. They can decide if they will allow their children to go place alone etc. The child should probably prove to their parents they are responsible and old enough to be doing such things on their own though.

    Most parents do not allow their young children to do things on their own or go places by themselves. So when you see a cop picking up a young child who is wandering around alone, I don't think they are in the wrong. I think they are trying to look out for the best interest of the child. Especially if the child is in a crowded area where they can easily become in danger, I think that the police should pick up the child and make sure that they get to a safe location.

    I would want my children to have freedoms and responsibility, however only if it does not put them in any danger. It is really a matter of safety!! If other people see a situation as dangerous to a child, most likely it is and maybe if you are a free range parent to think twice before allowing your child to do something...

    Thank you for this forum! This was a very a interesting topic and I really enjoyed answering! Have a great day!


    Re: Children: Overprotected or Safer Than Ever?

    Hi, this question is definitely a yes and no because I feel society and parents have to be more vigilant on watching their kids because unfortunately there seems to be more evil or dangers out in the world today. On the other hand, I strongly believe government or bureaucrats have gotten out of control when parents are being disciplined for allowing their kids to play outside, even in their own fenced back yard. It may depend on where you live, I have always lived in the country or rural areas so my life is probably much different than those in the city. Kids spend a lot of town outside during the day, parents aren't worried about them and only ask that they check in once in a while to say if they are going somewhere different. Parents should have tips for their kids to safely walk from one place to another though as you hear horror stories of kids disappearing or of an attempted kidnapping. This is why I think cell phones are a good idea for younger teens to have. There should be an alarm button on the cell phones that kids can tap when they fear something or someone might be after them. It could make the phone record or go live to the police and to the parent's phone with a location and an alarm sound at the same time.

    Re: Children: Overprotected or Safer Than Ever?

    Hello Kate!

    I don't think I can personally say whether or not children are overprotected now in comparison to being raised properly in earlier times.
    I think there is a pretty broad range of parenting right now that can't be simplified by a blanket statement about over/under protection.
    What I will say about the example you've presented in which the police intervened is also a situation in which there could be a lot of variation within the response of police.
    Intervention by police and CPS are effected largely by class and race. They operate heavily on the assumption that lower class and/or families of color are less capable of properly taking care of their children and upper class and/ or white families are less likely to be abusive and neglectful.
    On the topic of free range parenting: I agree with it in theory, but every encounter I've had with those who practice it has been somewhat negative. I feel that applying such a strong, extreme ideology to parenting doesn't properly coincide with the way children's needs actually occur and the way that parenting actually happens. However, I am not a parent and am not an expert on parenting.

    Thank you for the topic!

    - Anna

    Re: Children: Overprotected or Safer Than Ever?

    Hi Kate,
    I believe that children need to be protected. This is definitely a yes because in today's society you can never e sure of one's mindset or what they have been exposed to in their life. A lot of individuals have experienced traumas that they have never worked through and which sometimes are manifest through negative thoughts and deeds. Ultimately, we have to keep out children safe by preparing them to be cautious, thinkers, have a safe word, know when situations do not feel right, and tell immediately if anyone ask them to keep a secret or their love one's safety depends on their compliance. I don't think it is a issue of being overprotected but generally mindful of the reason to live fully but with caution. Whether you want to identify parenting style as overprotective or free-range, all parents must be accountable their actions and decisions regarding the safety of their children.